Uday Kaul was probably over the moon when he was named Punjab skipper for the T20 North Zone tournament. After the event, the 21-year-old could well be regretting his inclusion in the squad.
Reason: Punjab couldn’t find a slot for the skipper and had to "hide" him down the order. Kaul, who bats one down — he did come in at that spot against minnows Services, didn't get to bat against Delhi even after the fall of eight wickets, and was the tenth man in against Himachal Pradesh.
Apparently, the team management didn’t have confidence in the skipper, who was leading the senior side for the first time. “I don’t think we were hiding him. He is a player with proven credentials and we have high hopes from him. It’s just that the wickets weren’t conducive to his style of batting,” said coach Bhupinder Singh Sr. “More often than not, our openers gave us a good start, and when wickets fell after that, we needed to send in power-hitters to keep the momentum going,” he said.
The need for flexibility in the batting line-up in this format is understandable, but to see a top-order batsman, and a captain at that, coming in at nine down is beyond comprehension.
It clearly suggests that the selection committee and the team management weren’t unanimous in their choice of skipper. “Our job was to pick the squad of 15 and the captain. Who makes the final XI and who gets to bat at where is something that the coach and manager decide on the spot,” said selection committee chairman Chaman Lal Malhotra.
Even if Bhupinder and Malhotra's explanations are taken on face value, it cannot be denied that the move has dented Kaul' s confidence and undermined his position in the team.